Rockwall Lou – V6 Chapter 3

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟑

(3)

The once tranquil and peaceful Mido Village had been tragically transformed. Tweney’s heart was deeply pained. Although he had never interacted with the villagers, the peaceful scenery he observed from the tower was etched in his heart.

Please be safe.

Please escape safely.

Behind the fervently praying Tweney, Battsu, holding the reins, suddenly whistled.

In front of them, a magnificent white castle towered.

“Wow, what a beautiful castle.”

“My, oh my.”

“Impressive.”

Paulun, Tenku, and Fuuri all exclaimed in admiration.

“It’s befitting of a princess’s residence. While it might be small in scale, it’s truly magnificent.”

Tweney couldn’t wholeheartedly accept Ozma’s praise.

This breathtaking transformation had happened just a few days before she was taken to the capital. Furthermore, Tweney rarely viewed his residence from the outside, so he wasn’t very familiar with it.

Upon closer inspection, both the castle walls and gates seemed intact.

Currently, the castle was uninhabited. The entrance next to the castle gate was locked. However, they had a wizard with them. Tenku leaped over the castle walls and unlocked the gate from the inside.

The inside of the castle was just as stunning. Flawless stone pavements, various sculptures, stone benches, a mansion with a tower taller than the castle walls, and a hexagonal-shaped domed chapel.

“Is it really uninhabited? It feels eerily pristine.”

Tweney felt he could relate to Battsu’s sentiment. While a ruined castle would have been distressing, this overly beautiful one felt somewhat unnatural for human habitation.

However, that was only the exterior. The interior decor and furnishings were dilapidated.

“Strange. While the building looks new, the insides resemble ruins.”

Tweney thought Fuuri’s observation was quite apt.

According to Rayza, the castle’s maintenance was handled by a department called the Royal Court Management Bureau, which had difficulty securing funds. However, due to Rayza’s persistent requests, a small cleaner was dispatched that day.

Tweney gave a tour of the castle.

“This is the well.”

It looked as though it had never been used, with no moss or mold in sight.

“The carriage is over here.”

It was a two-seater carriage that Rayza had prepared for emergencies. It seemed he intended to use it with a farming horse borrowed from Mido Village.

“Yes, there’s space behind the seats to load luggage.”

Paulun seemed pleased, likely because there wouldn’t be any food shortages.

“This is the guest room.”

There were three buildings inside the castle: the main mansion, the chapel, and a separate guesthouse. It was a seldom-visited place, but it seemed Rayza had maintained it minimally.

Tenku was delighted, seeing it as a place to rest.

In the underground food storage, preserved food and wine remained. With available firewood, they could also cook in the kitchen.

“There’s a bath. With soap and aromatic oils!”

While Tweney was pleased about it, the wizards weren’t as thrilled as they were about wine and beds.

Wizards have various restrictions. One of them is the prohibition of entering public baths. This is to prevent scaring the patrons, but perhaps because of that, many wizards dislike baths.

After the tour of the castle, Ozma announced a break until dinner.

Tweney entered her former room on the third floor of the tower.

The arrangement of the furniture was unchanged. A large bookshelf, a desk and bed, and a south-facing bay window.

For a moment, the apparition of a boy sitting cross-legged appeared.

As if being guided, Tweney opened the window.

A tall tree standing in the beautiful garden. The bird’s nest built at the base of its branches was already empty.

Back then, it was terrifying. The tiniest chick fell from the nest. She sought help from the boy on the roof of the chapel. And the boy quickly saved the chick.

She looked at the castle walls.

Beyond that, the view she knew spread out.

The overwhelmingly beautiful golden sky and the gently connected ridgelines. And the wind blowing freely everywhere.

The world was so vast that all the petty worries she had held until now were blown away.

You shouldn’t have unattainable wishes. With that thought, memories she had tried hard to forget began to overflow.

Strength entered the hand on the bay window.

The tightly clenched small fist trembled.

“. . . . . .Luo.”

For the first time since starting the dangerous journey.

The girl shed tears.

⠀⠀⠀⠀◇

The atmosphere at dinner was somewhat awkward. Paulun made the food, and fine wine was served. The members of the Hero Squad cheered.

Tweney seemed happy, but her eyes were red and swollen.

“What’s up, kid? Crying, huh? Haha━Ouch!”

After Battsu’s utterly tactless remark, Paulun’s elbow jabbed into his side. Tweney said she was fine and smiled, but she hadn’t eaten much.

After the meal, when the girl returned to her room, the members were relaxing with wine. But Battsu started to move stealthily. He fetched water and burned wood. It seemed the bath-hating man was preparing a bath.

“Isn’t he kind of sweet?”

Paulun said with a smile, but Ozma’s inner thoughts were far from tranquil.

After reaching the “Temple of the End,” the members had no idea what would become of this pitiful princess.

For a wizard, the life of a single child was inconsequential. There should have been no issue. However, he had never expected Battsu to open up to the princess, who was supposed to be part of the establishment.

The journey of trials was still far from over. They couldn’t afford to lose any more strength, especially if she became their strongest asset. It was prudent to address any concerns now.

That night, Ozma visited Tweney’s room.

“I apologize for interrupting before bed. I have a brief update regarding our future plans.”

The girl was in her nightclothes, but she didn’t seem to be of an age to be shy. She promptly invited Ozma into her room.

Ozma held a lantern that emitted a suspicious light.

“We plan to enter the ‘wilderness’ in a few days, but there are precautions to be aware of before then.”

The flame in the lantern flickered gently.

“You, my lady, have been entrusted with the mission to save this country’s fate. Your status is different from others.”

With the lantern’s flame reflected in her eyes, the princess listened with a curious expression.

“Even a wizard is considered lowly. You shouldn’t casually address them. Starting tomorrow, please interact with them with the dignity and demeanor befitting royalty.”

Ozma subtly guided the young girl’s thoughts.

“Never let your guard down. Don’t show them your smile. It gives them an opening. After all, deep down, they regard someone as noble as you as an enemy. Understand?”

After some thought, Ozma added.

“Well, I’m an exception. After all, I lead the Hero Squad. Defying my orders is. . . . . .”

“Is that magic?”

A reproachful tone came from the girl’s mouth.

“I saw it during the presentation ceremony. It was used by Tabashika, wasn’t it?”

Ozma’s smile froze.

Why doesn’t the magic work?

Was it a matter of skill? No, it had worked perfectly on the Captain of the Royal Guards and the maid.

According to a blind storyteller, the princess, a descendant of the Goddess, possesses a mysterious power. It’s said to be for overcoming a journey of trials, but there might be more to it.

“I. . . . . .”

Upon realizing his mistake, Ozma noticed.

The girl’s power and its essence.

“I can make decisions for myself!”

The emblem on the girl’s forehead shone brightly.

In the next moment, a force like air pressure was emitted, extinguishing the lantern’s flame.

“Argh.”

For the first time, Ozma’s facade of a smile crumbled.

Taking the princess, who had grown up without knowing her parents or their love, on a dangerous journey was one of the pressing issues pointed out by Prime Minister Hou.

According to interviews with the maids who served the princess, she has a calm demeanor and rarely shows emotions like anger, anxiety, or sadness.

Therefore, King Ramon summoned the princess during an audience and, without asking her opinion, ordered her to defeat the “Blue Demon Beast.”

Afterwards, a presentation ceremony was held to stabilize the mood of the capital. Perhaps overwhelmed, the princess fell ill with a fever.

Throughout the journey, she didn’t complain or argue, quietly obeying. Just as Paulun once remarked, she was like a flower, hardly noticeable.

Ozma had thought her a coward, bending to powerful forces to protect herself. But had she been observing their actions all along?

Almost unconsciously, Ozma reached out to the girl. But halfway, he clenched his fist and slowly returned to his original position.

“I apologize. Of course, I was just joking.”

Offering a wholly unconvincing excuse, Ozma forced a smile.

“I may have gone a bit overboard with my teasing. Please forget what happened today.”

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